The Council of Legal Education was established for the Caribbean region by Treaty in 1970.The signatories to the Treaty establishing the Council were convinced of the need, following the acquisition of a Bachelor of Laws degree, for a period of further institutional training.
That training would be directed towards the study of legal subjects having a practical content and emphasis, and the acquisition of the skills and techniques required for the practice of law.
The inaugural meeting of the Council was held at the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies in Barbados on September 20 and 21, 1971 under the chairmanship of the late Sir William Douglas, then Chief Justice of Barbados. The Council administers a two-year course of practical professional training at the three Law Schools which it administers, namely, the Norman Manley Law School in Jamaica, the Hugh Wooding Law School in Trinidad and Tobago and at the Eugene Dupuch Law School in The Bahamas.
The members of the Council include the Attorneys-General of member Governments, Heads of the Judiciary of member Governments, representatives of the legal professional bodies (chosen by the relevant professional associations), the University Dean of the Faculty of Law of the University of the West-Indies and the Principals of the Council’s three Law Schools.
The mission of the Council is “[t]o facilitate the development of competent legal practitioners for the region who, appreciating their responsibility as members of an honourable profession and recognising the needs of their socio-economic environment, are inspired in the pursuit of excellence, the maintenance of high ethical standards, the promotion of social justice and the strengthening of the rule of law.”
The current chairman of the Council is Mrs. Jacqueline Samuels-Brown Q.C. Mrs. Samuels-Brown is the ninth chairman of the Council. The former charimen of the Council are:
- Sir William Douglas (deceased) – (Barbados) 1971-1977
- Dr. The Hon. Lloyd George Barnett OJ- (Jamaica) 1977-1983
- (Former Chief Justice)Mr. Cecil Arthur Kelsick TC- (Trinidad & Tobago) 1983-1984
- The Hon. Mr. Justice Christopher Blackman- (Barbados) 1984-1993
- Mr. Ashton Chase, S.C. – (Guyana) 1993-1999
- The Hon. Mr. Justice Dennis Morrison- (Jamaica) 1999-2004
- Mr. J. Emile Ferdinand Q.C. – (St. Kitts & Nevis) 2004-2007
- Ms. E. Ann Henry Q.C. – (Antigua & Barbuda) 2007-2010